Interning 101: Tips for finding an internship

Something I always wish I had in college was a guide to interning and internships so that’s a new series I’m going to work on. Hopefully, it ends up helping at least one person out there and that’s all that matters.

At first, interning wasn’t something I thought about. My original plan for college was to become a teacher so I wouldn’t have to intern. I’d be student teaching which is basically a form of interning but I realized I didn’t want to become a teacher. Instead, I changed my major to English with a writing concentration.

I didn’t know what I wanted to write at the beginning. I had written fiction in high school and still did a little bit in college. Then something changed in me. I saw something happening with the Cowboys and I thought, “Hmm, I want to give my opinion on that,” so I started looking around and submitted my article to a website who published it. After that, it was decided. I would write about sports.

The one thing no one tells you about sports writing internship is there’s a lot of them out there but not a lot of them are the most reliable. Anyways before I get too in-depth, let me talk about my first tip for finding an internship.

1. Don’t just settle on one place to look

When I first met with my advisor to talk about interning, she was excited. She was the head of the internship department and was quick to tell me about some internships. She mentioned a few on campus which I brushed off but I wish I hadn’t. They weren’t exactly sports related, but ones that would have been great to put on my resume. That’s a lot easier to say in hindsight, though.

While she mentioned places on campus, I took my search to the internet. I found a lot of websites, advertising for interns and it was overwhelming. Eventually, I found a website called internships.com which was a useful resource. They have a lot of internships listed for remote positions, on-site positions and a multitude of different companies. If you don’t find something on there, then I’d be shocked.

The other place worth checking out is local businesses. One thing a professor mentioned was the local library looking for an intern. It might not be in your field, but would be a great experience and something to help you get your foot in the door.

2. Research, research, research!

Finding the perfect internship fit for you can be hard and what you thought was the perfect fit could be an absolute nightmare. Always make sure you do research on the company before accepting a position or sometimes even applying.

What looks good on paper might not look good in person. Just reading a listing for an internship will only tell you so much and basically what you want to hear. You have to go out there and do research on your own. For example, one of my best friends took an internship and it was less hands-on than she wanted. Instead of getting to do the work she wanted, she ended up basically being her boss’s shadow.

Researching is key both before and after you’re interning. Even after you land it, you still want to do some research about the company and follow its trends. For my internship, I wrote for a sports blog remotely so I had to make sure I was writing about what sports were going on at that time and also making sure I was writing what would make the company successful, not just what I wanted.

3. Look out for scams and unreliable sites

This goes hand and hand with researching the company but you have to be careful when looking for an internship. Sometimes, they will say they’re looking for interns but really just one someone to do assignments every once in a while or assignments no one else is willing to do. I once interned for a place who wanted me to transcript a 3-hour interview, just because no else wanted to do it.

Sites will tell you they want you and then not get back to you. It’s that type of unreliability that you should stay after from. If they’re not going to make you a priority, don’t make them one. I interned for a lot of sites who either didn’t get back to me, didn’t pay me as promised or didn’t end up being what they were advertised as.

Scams are pretty easy to spot and for the most part, I haven’t dealt with them. I did find some sites who claimed to pay but didn’t and sites who have sketchy information. Overall, just use your best judgment and if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask the company, your peers or your advisor. I’m sure you’ll find someone who will be happy to clear up any confusion you might have.

4. Don’t be scared of rejection

What no one tells you is finding an internship can extremely hard. I found one internship online and it was a pretty well-known and huge site. I had a phone interview with one of the editors and she seemed excited, arranging a Skype call with me. After waiting around all afternoon and into the night, I didn’t hear anything so I gave up on that internship.

I felt defeated but I didn’t give up on looking. I looked over the next few days and sent out a ton of emails, probably between 50-100. I only heard back from a handful of places and the response after that was even smaller. Eventually, I only had 5 or 6 choices and I picked one. It was a hard choice but one I don’t regret one bit.

Rejection is just a part of life and there’s no reason to give up after one or a handful of them. I was rejected for a lot of jobs and internships so I know the feeling. Sure, it still stings a little bit but don’t let it get you down. Eventually, you’ll find an internship that fits you perfectly and all that rejection will make sense.

5. Make sure it’s the internship you want

When looking for an internship, it’s easy to feel pressure. You could be feeling pressure to get a job, pressure from your parents or pressure to find an internship like your friends or classmates. At the end of the day, you need to find the internship that works best for you.

Picking one based on other reasons will only make you unhappy. You need to decide what you want, if you want to travel, if you want one paid or unpaid along with many other factors. What’s most important though is making sure you can balance everything with you with an internship.

If you want to intern, do it. If you don’t, then don’t. It’s as simple as that. Don’t worry about others think or what they’re doing. Becoming an internship isn’t an easy decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly so think about it long and hard before you decide.

Hopefully, my tips for finding an internship were helpful. I’m here if you have any questions about finding internships or if you want recommendations on where to look.

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